Find the best kid-friendly ways to use canned beans and dried beans in recipes to share with the entire family. I have easy, budget-friendly, and yummy recipes that use pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, red beans, lentils. and split peas. Hooray for easy pantry recipes!
Best Bean Recipes
It’s a great time to try new and kid-friendly bean recipes because they’re such an easy way to serve up affordable plant-based protein. These easy recipes rely on canned beans, dried beans, and legumes and are healthy and super yummy. I love using beans and legumes as affordable meat alternatives to ensure that we’re all meeting our protein needs, feeling satisfied at meals, and keeping our food budget in check.
TIP: I’ve included my favorite recipes for black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, red kidney beans, lentils, and split peas to make sure you have lots of options to use what you have on hand.
Recipes for Black Beans
Black beans are my go-to beans for Mexican-inspired meals (in part because my oldest kiddo LOVES them for some reason!) and more, and I always have them on hand in my pantry. Stock up the next time you have a chance and try one of these easy recipes for your toddler—or the whole family.
- Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
- 5-Ingredient Vegetarian Burritos
- Slow Cooker Black Beans
- Sheet Pan Black Bean Quesadillas
- Black Bean Brownie Bites
- Healthy Baked Sheet Pan Nachos
- 30-Minute Black Bean Soup
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
TIP: Cooked black beans can be frozen for future use if needed. I like to freeze any extras in meal-size portions if possible.
Easy Pinto Bean Recipes
Pinto beans are versatile and mild and are easy to make into chili, quesadillas, rice and beans, and more.
- Big Batch Vegetarian Chili
- Perfect Pinto Beans
- Homemade Refried Beans in the Crockpot
- Vegetarian Quesadillas
- Refried Bean Taco Roll Ups
TIP: Place canned beans into a colander and rinse well with water to avoid any excess salt (and the sort of weird liquid from the can).
Garbanzo Bean Recipes
Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are a mild bean that can be used in hummus (and I have a few options below to try!) and other recipes including grain bowls and salads. Here are my favorite chickpea recipes.
- Homemade Hummus without Tahini
- Carrot Hummus
- Butternut Squash Hummus
- Beet Hummus
- Roasted Sweet Potato and Bean Tacos
- Soft Roasted Chickpeas
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas
- Instant Pot Chana Masala
TIP: You can lightly smash whole chickpeas for babies and one year olds to ensure they’re safe to eat.
Recipes with White Beans and Red Beans
White beans are soft and mild and are easy to blend into soups and dips to add vegetarian protein. And also, they’re really great to add to salads! Red beans, I admit, are ones I use less often, but they are super tender on the inside, making them a great choice for kids.
- Healthy Pasta Salad
- Sweet Potato White Bean Dip
- Roasted Carrot Soup
- Greek Orzo with White Beans
- Red Beans and Rice
- Easy Chicken Chili
- Veggie Chili Mac
TIP: You may want to mash the red beans slightly if they are very large.
Recipes for Lentils and Split Peas
Lentils and split peas are legumes with high iron and protein and they’re an easy shelf-stable protein source to keep in the pantry. Here are my favorite recipe to make with them.
- 30-Minute Lentil Soup with Veggies
- Italian Lentils with Rice
- Lentil Bolognese
- Lentil Falafel
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Split Peas
- One-Pot Lentils and Rice with Dried Fruit
- Easy Split Pea Soup
- Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato
- Easy Daal
TIP: Red lentils cook a lot faster than brown or green ones, so be sure to get the right kind for your planned recipe if possible.
Best Tips for Cooking with Beans and Legumes
- When cooking dried beans from scratch, make sure they have plenty of water in the pot. The beans will absorb a lot of water and not having enough water will result in beans that aren’t uniformly cooked.
- Be sure to season beans you cook from dry to ensure they have flavor.
- With any canned beans, pour them into a colander from the can and rinse them with water to remove any excess salt and the liquid they were in from the can. This helps them to taste fresher.
- Mash beans slightly in dishes like tacos or burritos to make them a little less likely to fall out when the kids try to eat them.
- Store any leftover beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature.